Time moves all the time.
As I say “now”, you read it later. My father used to drive me mad saying “Don’t leave at 1.00 if you have to be there at 1.00. You have to get there, it takes time …” He was right in this (as in so much else) and as I was thinking about this week’s copy, I read a line from the widow of a man killed in the Twin Towers – “I have moved forward, I haven’t moved on … “ Time in the months of pandemic has been both killingly slow and gone in a whistle. September ? How’d that happen ?
Usually (suitably grateful to the Powers That Be) I sit down and write.
I have the greatest respect for the subconscious mind which is obviously where a lot of my work is done and yes, of course, down the years I have learned to add bits in or cut back, change the order etc. An old boss (newspaper editor) used to say bracingly “There is a piece in there, if we could just get past the introduction … !” I learned.
But this week I have faltered.
I have a whole piece sitting beside me and I am not sure. Generally speaking journalists write in a framework – as politico, a reporter from a particular destination, star turn and so on. Nobody tells me what to do and most of the time I think it has made me a better writer, sometimes better than others and sometimes I miss the boat. This time I had a dilemma.
For all those years in radio I very rarely dealt with the news. Everybody else did news. I did issues. I have Linda Marks to thank for this. And I still do issues. There are the headlines, written or spoken, and there is life. I stick to life. It has seemed to me impossible, indeed an affectation, to ignore the pandemic which has affected so many people. But in my life I do look for the silver lining,
for the small joy, for the bit that’s funny or touching or lifts the heart, because I don’t know how else to manage. I never falsify these things, to myself or anybody else, but I watch and seize on them with joy.
I do not think that much of the coverage of the pandemic has been helpful. It has been depressing and contradictory, confusing and relentless. And a lot of this is to do with the presenters, political or journalistic, and how the stuff been offered to us. But the counterbalance has been hard to find, until it comes along.
There are all sorts of ways to look at the exit from Afghanistan. I don’t feel you can ignore it. The knock on is already beginning to be felt. America has been lied to by its elite for years. Again. 30 years in South East Asia, 20 years in Afghanistan. In the UK we followed 200 years of misdirected foreign policy – good enough for them, good enough for us.
Neither were true.
For us, at home, it is just one more thing alongside melting ice caps, fires burning out of control in all five continents, plastic blocking the rivers, waste in the sea, this ripped down and that thrown up, and something else, lying broken … You think of what you can bear to face, we all do. But you’d have to be wilfully stupid to pretend that all is well.
While if you’re writing, you have to be careful that in trying to offset all the bad news with some small bit of something nicer, you don’t jar somebody’s sensibilities, over-egg the pudding, diminish either side of the story in trying to offset the one and the other. Or just sound foolish.
“Time” says an old adage “heals all wounds.” I haven’t believed that since I was about fifteen. Time changes how we perceived things, because time changes everything all the time. Some things never change, whether by luck of the draw or act of will. And some things take their time to change. We call that history.